Leading article: Red or dead

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The Independent Online

The search for life on Mars continues. Scientists at the University of Leicester are developing a new rover vehicle for the next European Space Agency mission to the red planet. The estimated time of arrival is some time in 2018. This all demonstrates remarkable dedication and single-mindedness. Despite the failure by scores of missions to Mars since the 1960s to discover little green men, or even little green microbes, the scientific community keeps trying. The attitude seems to be that if you throw enough probes at a planet, something will eventually turn up.

The new rover will be designed to dig under the Martian soil to look for ancient signs of life. But perhaps the craft can have a look around for the poor old Beagle 2, which went missing in the Mars area in December 2003, while it's in the neighbourhood. And if it does find the older craft at least the mission's chiefs will be able to claim to have found signs of intelligence – even if does hail from the University of Leicester, rather than Mars.